Lions-Vikings Final Thoughts: Darrell Bevell still wants to be a head coach, and Random Thoughts on Lions' milestones, stats & record, interim experience from an opponent and my pick:
Darrell Bevell has had a rough ride in what he called his five-week "audition" as interim head coach of the Detroit Lions, but it hasn't been rough enough for him to abandon his goal to be a full-time head coach.
He was asked during the practice week for today's game what he has taken away from the experience since his promotion from offensive coordinator after Matt Patricia was fired as head coach.
Bevell enjoyed the challenge of dealing with it all – the good, the bad and some that was downright ugly.
"I appreciate the question," Bevell said. "It hasn't deterred me. This has been a great experience. I've learned a lot. There's been a lot thrown at me in a short period of time, but like I've told you many, many times, I love this game.
"I love being around these players, and I love, really, everything that goes on with it. To have an opportunity to run your own team, I think, is a blessing and a gift and something that I would definitely embrace."
It's rare that interim head coaches take over good teams, and the Lions have not been good for three years. The odds were remote of turning around a team that has a three-year won-loss record of 14-32-1 going into today's game.
Bevell's audition got off to a good start with a 34-30 win over the Bears.The Lions showed some energy, which had been lacking, and the defense made key plays in the stretch – something that also had been lacking.
But after that came three losses. The Lions were competitive in a 31-24 loss to the Packers, but nothing close to that in two wipeout losses – 46-25 to the Titans and 47-7 to the Bucs.
Bevell and four of his assistants were barred from being with the team for the Bucs game because of the COVID-19 protocols.
"I would probably use the word 'helpless,' as you're just sitting, watching the game on television," is how Bevell described his emotions on gameday.
Bevell has spent 20 seasons in the NFL – 14 of them as an offensive coordinator with the Vikings, Seahawks and Lions. He knows how things work in the NFL.
As the Lions begin an offseason that promises dramatic change from top to bottom of the football operation, Bevell isn't sure where he fits – or if he fits – in the franchise's future.
"The future happens in the future," he said Friday. "If we worry about that, we can lose track.
"I'm just excited about this day."
Milestones: What happens on the stats sheet is as interesting as what happens on the scoreboard. Three Lions have a chance to reach personal milestones.
Wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. needs one TD reception to reach 50 for his career. Defensive end Romeo Okwara needs one sack to reach 10 for the season. And quarterback Matthew Stafford needs 209 yards passing to reach 4,000 for the eighth season, and the first in three years.
Interim brotherhood: Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer can empathize with what Bevell and the staff have gone through since the switch in head coaches.
Zimmer was defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 when Bobby Petrino quit with three games left. Emmitt Thomas took over. The Falcons went 1-2 under Thomas to finish 4-12.
"I think everybody tries to be professional and prepare the right way," Zimmer said in his conference call interview this week. "You kind of know there are going to be a lot of changes. The hard part of it is, they're probably making phone calls, getting jobs.
"It's really a tough situation for everybody, honestly – players, coaches, management. I feel for the players, and I feel for the coaches."
Playing like it's 2008: How the Lions' defense of this season stacks up with the 2008 Lions is a noteworthy statistical comparison, but the 2008 team's 0-16 record overshadows any other statistical comparisons.
For the record, the 2008 Lions set franchise records for allowing 517 points and 6,470 yards. The current team has given up 482 points and 6,208 yards.
Prediction: Neither team has had much of a pass rush, which lends itself to a high-scoring game. It's been a disappointing season for both teams.
Vikings 31, Lions 21.